TWoP Fan's CBR-III Review #2 - Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Full Dark, No Stars is a collection of short stories by Stephen King, who is the most prolific retired writer ever. I feel like King does better with short stories. At this point in his career, his editor seems to have trouble telling King when he's been too wordy or too folksy, and he's often both. When he gets into a short story, he seems to have a much better internal editor. On top of that, he seems to be much better at finding the end point to his stories, rather than abruptly stopping or wandering off point to find his way back twenty pages later.

The first story is “1922”. It's your basic man marries wife, has kid, murders wife, gets haunted. It's the perfect setting for King's sayings he's always dragging into his EW column, which are annoying as all get out unless they are well-set into a story. Fortunately, it works well here. The story evokes the rural setting and the desperation of a man in a hard life that's never going to get easier. It's an easy read, not unforgettable, but a nice way to spend some time. He does give the main character the middle name of Leland, which was the name of the evil proprietor in Needful Things, which is my all time favorite King novel. Just an FYI.

The second story, “Big Driver”, is a bit different than the usual supernatural horror. This is about the real horror of a woman attacked and left or dead and what it does to her in the aftermath. It's hard to describe without delving into spoilers, but it is very raw and surprising. King does a nice job with female characters and this story feels real.

"Fair Extension” was an interesting concept that I think hits the mark. A man makes a deal to extend his life at the consequence of a man he hates, who is also his best friend. It's an exploration in jealousy, revenge, betrayal and the idea of getting what we deserve. Can we ever really be happy for someone we love who seems to have so much more than we do?

"A Good Marriage" was my favorite story. It's a simple story of when a wife discovers that he husband of nearly thirty years has a side she's never known about. It's well done and the discoveries are grisly and believable. It's more about what the wife discovers about herself rather than her husband. I was a little hesitant to sleep by my husband that night. Really, what do I know about that guy?

Rating: Fine stories, but not King's best. Also, read Needful Things. Trust me.
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